Obama is prone to liken himself to Ronald Reagan at times (and Abe Lincoln at others; he relates to those Republicans . . . ).
Are you old enough to recall the Reagan/Carter race? The question in the title is a paraphrase of the one Reagan rhetorically asked of voters during that campaign. Obama is definitely on the wrong side of that Reagan question, and you can expect a resurrection of that query in the 2012 election (if the GOP has any sense at all, or even a second-cousin of sense).
The answer to the question manifests itself in a recent poll, and it is not very encouraging for the incumbent president. An NBC/Washington Post poll that was just released gives us the latest political “atmospherics”:
Despite those hundreds of billions of blown stimulus dollars, and almost as many upturn promises from Joe Biden, 82% of Americans still say their job market is struggling. Ninety percent rate the economy negatively, including the half who give it the worst rating of “poor.”
A slim 15% claim to be “getting ahead financially”—half what it was in 2006. Fully 27% say they’re falling behind. That’s up 6 points since February.
A significant majority (54%) says they’ve been forced to change their lifestyles significantly as a result of the economic times—and 60% of them are angry, up from 44%.
So, you ask, doesn’t it depend on whom voters blame when it comes to interpreting this poll’s negative effects? Well, yes, of course. And here’s an indicator of who that might be:
Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53%—down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the fact that independents have been deserting Obama for quite some time. We just had a Pew poll that said many whites who previously supported him have left him. And it gets worse:
Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one.
That prompted Bernie Sanders (Socialist – Vermont), to exclaim the other day:
“I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”
He’s not the first to float that heretical idea, either. And that sort of talk is a sure sign of crumbling support within one’s political base. When even the “homers” aren’t happy (and the reason really doesn’t matter), you can be assured most of the rest of the voters aren’t happy either.
Obama is trying desperately to run to the center, and all he’s really accomplishing with that is to lose base support. It doesn’t appear that the big middle is warming up to his attempts to woo them; support for him in all areas continues to drop.
The standard disclaimer applies—in political terms, it is still light years away from November of 2012. That said, these are solid trends we’re talking about, and they’ve been developing over quite some time.
Looking into the future, and given the economic reports we’re seeing, it’s hard to see how this all improves enough for Obama to offset the high negativity that is building up right now.
However, despite continued efforts to push this off on Bush, this is now considered to be Obama’s economy—whether he likes it or not. That excuse was good for a year or so, as many were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now it’s just considered whining. Obama ran for the job, and he got it. Now, he is expected to perform up to the standards and expectations he established in his campaign. On all fronts, he’s falling woefully short, and most people have no patience for the continued attempts to pass his failure off on someone else. Yes, he has a real problem in 2012—he has to actually run on his own record.
So . . . are you better off than you were in January of 2009?
Very few Americans find themselves able to answer “yes,” at least at this point.